Backpacker Magazine –
How to Do Everything - Camping
Hiking | Packing & Planning | Camping | Gear | First Aid & Health | Cooking
Water 101 | Build a Fire | DIY Grommets, Windscreen | Master Three Knots | Set Up Camp | Beat Bugs & Bears | Two-Second Tips
SET UP THE PERFECT CAMP
PITCH AT TENT ANYWHERE
- Keep your catholes at least 200 feet from camp, trails, and water sources.
- Stash your bear bag or canister at least 200 feet downwind of camp.
- Cook at least 30 feet downwind of your tent to minimize odors that could attract wildlife. Minimize impact by choosing a durable surface (rock, sand). If fires are permitted, use a fire ring or fire pan.
- Pick a spot 200 feet (70 adult steps) from lakes and streams.
- Pitch your tent on a durable surface like a meadow, slickrock, gravel bar, or sandy beach. Choose an established site whenever possible.
CAMP IN THE WIND
- On rock: Find flat, saucer-shaped rocks weighing at least 25 pounds each. Tie 4- to 8-foot pieces of nylon cord to all of the tent's primary stake-out points. Using a taut-line hitch, loop the other end of the cord around a rock and pull it tight. Place another rock on top of the first rock to keep cord from shifting in the wind.
- On sand: Make a deadman anchor by tying cord to one of the tent's stake-out points; tie the other end to a thick stick, trekking pole, or sand-filled stuff sack. Bury the deadman (sticks and poles in a horizontal position) one to two feet below the surface and tamp down the sand. Repeat for all stake-out points.
- On snow: Same as with sand, but don't use stuff sacks. Snow that melts and refreezes is hard to remove, and your stuff sacks might not survive the process. Best bet: Mountain Hardwear's Tent Anchor ($8; mountainhardwear.com).
- Campsite Seek protection in low-lying, dense forests. Avoid spots among trees that show obvious signs of frequent wind, like stunted growth or bent trunks. Above treeline, scout for sites on the lee side of a rock outcropping or ridgeline.
- Tent If it's not raining, wait for the winds to die down (often at sunset) before pitching your tent–setup will be easier, with less risk of big gusts bending poles or ripping tent fabric. Fully stake and guy the tent out, regardless of conditions when you make camp.
GUY OUT YOUR TENT
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Tie small overhand loops at both ends of a nylon cord (use 4-foot pieces to anchor the base and 6- to 8-foot pieces for the top guy loops). Pull one end through a guy loop on your tent's fly, then pass the other end through the loop in the cord to fasten it. Anchor the other end to a grounded stake. Or tie cord to a stake, using an adjustable taut-line hitch knot (see right) or a rope tensioner. Guy lines can also be tied to fixed points, such as tree trunks, but not to anything that moves in the wind, like a branch or small rock.